[governance] Muti-stakeholder Group structure (some ideas)

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Fri Jun 1 11:49:22 EDT 2007

I have much the same concern as you do about "consensus" - I do not see 
it as a stable or viable approach.  It is a mechanism that is both too 
subjective, open to manipulation by the one who measures consensus, and 
can result with the losers feeling unfairly treated and resentful.

One of the reasons that internet governance has latched onto the idea of 
"consensus" is that in the IETF it worked (well, it used to work when 
working groups could fit around a single table, it is not working so 
well now.)  But the IETF deals with topics that have the nice property 
that when the power is applied they either work or they emit smoke. 
(Really - I recently saw smoke come out of a VoIP phone due to a flaw in 
power-over-ethernet specifications.)

But we are not dealing with the kinds of issues that the IETF is.  And 
the IETF has the benefit of a degree of homogeneity - we (IETF) are 
mainly a bunch of geeky engineers who like Monty Python.

What I'm suggesting is that the idea of making decisions by "consensus" 
ought not to be extrapolated from the IETF onto internet governance 
where the measure of a proposed solution is far more subjective and the 
interests affected are much more diverse.

Can you imagine the kind of political instability that what could have 
happened in the US had the 2000 or 2004 elections been measured by 
"consensus" rather than counted votes?


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